Occupational Therapy, M.S.

Occupational Therapy, M.S.


In response to the growing demand for health care professionals both regionally and nationally, the College of Health Sciences at Point Loma Nazarene University is working to offer a new graduate-level master’s in occupational therapy program.

The Occupational Therapy Profession

Occupational therapists (OTs) enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health and prevent — or live better with — injury, illness, or disability. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA, 2018), “As an inclusive profession, occupational therapy maximizes health, well-being, and quality of life for all people, populations, and communities through effective solutions that facilitate participation in everyday living.” 

As health care professionals, OTs specialize in restoring clients’ abilities to engage in instrumental activities of daily living, i.e., work, play, education, leisure, rest, social participation, and financial and home management skills. OTs work in various settings including pediatrics, geriatrics, orthopedics, neurology, physical rehabilitation, mental health, and in school systems. 

Necessary attributes and skills of an Occupational Therapist:

  • Communication: Effectively ask the patient questions and educate the patient’s family and employer about necessary accommodations.
  • Organization: Develop complex treatment plans for patients that require high organizational skills.
  • Goal-oriented: Encourage patients as they work toward improvement, and work to implement treatment goals.
  • Active: Be physically fit to aid clients with various disabilities and effectively demonstrating exercises.
  • Strong writing skills: Be able to write quickly and practically to assess and record patients’ activities and progress.
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PLNU Program Highlights

Students in the occupational therapy program at PLNU can expect a hands-on, evidence-based master’s curriculum that prepares you to improve the health and wellness of others. Students will connect with fellow healthcare professionals and clients, as well as serve within a variety of academic, clinical, and community settings.

In keeping with the mission of the University, the mission of the PLNU Occupational Therapy program is to produce competent and professional graduates who provide evidenced-based and occupation focused  interventions that serve others as an expression of faith. 

As a Christian community shaped by grace, truth, and holiness as a way of life, Point Loma Nazarene University and the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Program are committed to pursue and reflect the diversity, inclusion, and equity of the kingdom of God portrayed in scripture. We believe that every human being is created in the image of God and that our diverse identities, experiences, and abilities enrich our learning community.

Program Learning Outcomes

The Point Loma Nazarene University Master’s in Occupational Therapy Program Graduate will be able to:

  1. Use critical reasoning to provide evidence-based occupational therapy services across the lifespan, in a variety of service delivery models, health care settings, and community-based systems.
  2. Develop and utilize a therapeutic use of self during client interactions, which supports the client’s engagement in occupational therapy, and achievement of the clients’ goals.
  3. Provide services within a client-centered and occupation-based framework, with consideration of contextual factors, which influence a person, groups’ and/or populations’ ability to engage in meaningful occupational tasks and roles.
  4. Demonstrate compliance with legal, ethical, and professional standards when interacting with clients, service providers, and/or systems.
  5. Exhibit the ability to document, manage, and evaluate outcomes of services provided.
  6. Develop clinical programs, which meet a need for underserved persons, groups, and/or populations in the community.
  7. Embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion in clinical practice through the delivery of high quality, accessible, and culturally responsive care within a technological and global environment.
  8. Advance the awareness and ability to work collaboratively with inter-disciplinary team members to enhance the provision of client-centered, quality occupational therapy services.


Point Loma Nazarene University's Master of Science in Occupational Therapy has been granted program accreditation by the Western Association of Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC). WSCUC can be contacted at 1080 Marina Village Parkway, Suite 500, Alameda, CA 94501: 510-748-9001.

PLNU Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Program has been granted applicant status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). Applicant status is granted when a university has submitted a letter of intent and demonstrated a commitment to beginning a new program by allocating sufficient resources to the development of this program. PLNU MSOT program will submit a Candidacy application in December 2022.

If Candidacy Status is granted, the program may admit its first class of students and proceed to the second step of the process, the pre-accreditation review. In this step, the program conducts a programmatic self-study and prepares a Report of Self-Study, a comprehensive self-assessment of the program’s compliance with ACOTE Accreditation Standards.

Upon review of this report, ACOTE grants, defers action on, or denies Pre-accreditation Status, a decision that reflects ACOTE’s opinion of how likely the program is to meet the ACOTE Accreditation Standards by the time of the initial on-site evaluation. In preparation for the initial on-site evaluation, trained evaluators conduct a complete review of the Report of Self-Study submitted by the program.

The last step of the process is an initial on-site evaluation conducted by a two-member team. At the conclusion of the on-site evaluation, the team prepares a Report of On-Site Evaluation, which is reviewed by the program for factual accuracy. The Evaluators’ Report of On-Site Evaluation and any response from the program are then reviewed by ACOTE. ACOTE uses these materials as the basis for action regarding the accreditation status of the program and the term of accreditation awarded (5 or 7 years).

For further information, go to ACOTE® website or contact ACOTE® at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929, (301) 652-6611, or email accred@aota.org.

Program Policies and Procedures

Students enrolled in the Occupational Therapy program must read and follow the Occupational Therapy Student Handbook.

National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT®) Exam Pass Rate

The Point Loma Nazarene University Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Department will publish its Occupational Therapy National Certification Exam (NBCOT®) pass rates for the five most recent graduating classes when this information becomes available.

PLNU Licensure and Professional Certifications Information

Point Loma Nazarene University has determined that completion of the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy degree prepares graduates to apply for licensure in any of the 50 states. Licensure is required for occupational therapists and each state sets its own requirements for a license as an occupational therapist. To obtain a license, an individual must graduate from a U.S. OT program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE®) and pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapists (NBCOT®).

For more information about PLNU’s master’s in occupational therapy program, contact OT@pointloma.edu. You can also contact the occupational therapy program director, Beth Sullivan, OTR/L, OTD, at bsulliva@pointloma.edu.

Application Information

Program Start Date(s):

  • Fall 2023 — August 28, 2023

Application Deadline(s):

  • Priority application deadline is February 24, 2023.
  • July 1, 2023
  • The 2023 OTCAS Cycle opens July 21, 2022.

OT Centralized Application Service (OTCAS)

  • The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program utilizes the portal, the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Services (OTCAS) for submission of all applicant information.
  • The application cycle for the year 2023 opens July 21, 2022 and closes July 1, 2023.
  • To learn more about the OTCAS application process and to create your OTCAS account, please visit the OTCAS portal. The deadline for having a complete and verified OTCAS application is indicated on the Occupational Therapy program page.
  • All documents related to admission must be uploaded to the OTCAS will be automatically sent to the graduate admissions office.
  • Your application will be reviewed when the OTCAS application has been verified. Prerequisite courses must be completed by April 1, 2023. Interviews will be conducted in the fall and winter either virtually or in person as safety dictates. Admissions will occur on a rolling basis after the completion of either a fall or spring interview until the cohort of 40 students is filled or at latest, by early July 2023.

Admission Requirements

Pre-requisite Courses:

  • One semester of each of the following, each course completed with a grade of a “B-” or 3.0 or better:
    • Anatomy & Physiology (A & P) I with lab (must be completed within the past 5 years)
    • Anatomy & Physiology (A & P) II with lab (must be completed within the past 5 years)
    • In lieu of a combined A & P, you may take one semester of anatomy and one semester of physiology. Online and in-person classes accepted. 

  • One semester of each of the following; each course completed with a grade of a “B-” or better within the past 10 years. Courses can be taken online.
    • Abnormal Psychology (3 units)
    • Lifespan Development or Developmental Psychology or Human Development (3 units)
    • Medical Terminology (at least 1 unit).
    • Introductory Statistics (in behavioral or social sciences) (3 units)
    • Sociology, Anthropology or Social Psychology (3 units)
    • These courses may be taken at any regionally accredited community, public, or private college or university. Online courses at regionally accredited colleges are also acceptable for psychology, sociology, anthropology, or statistics courses.
  • You may have up to 6 credit hours of prerequisite courses in progress at the time of application to the program. If you are accepted into the program while currently enrolled in one to eight required prerequisite courses, you will be provisionally accepted. The provisional acceptance will be changed to full acceptance once transcripts are received that confirm successful completion of outstanding prerequisite courses that are aligned with the criteria above.

Grade Point Average (GPA):

  • Applicants must meet a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their most recent 60 semester units of work, including both graduate and undergraduate coursework.
  • Pre-requisite courses may only be repeated once; the second course grade will be used to calculate the average GPA.

Undergraduate Degree:

  • Completion of an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited university.

Letters of Reference:

  • Three letters of reference (personal or professional) are required. You will be provided with the link on OTCAS.

Personal Statement:

  • Submit an essay on the OTCAS, answering these questions:

    • How has your past work, volunteer, or service experiences prepared you to become an occupational therapist?

    • Explain why you selected occupational therapy as a career and how an Occupational Therapy degree relates to your immediate and long-term professional goals. Describe how your personal, educational, and professional background will help you achieve your goals.

    • How has your faith impacted your decision to pursue occupational therapy?

National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Early Determination Review:

  • The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) requires disclosure of all felony convictions. The results of this background check may impact eligibility for certification and licensure. If you are concerned about your eligibility due to past legal or mental health conditions, it is strongly advised to complete the NBCOT® early determination review process. Felony convictions may be resolved by the NBCOT®’s Qualifications Review Committee. For more information, refer to https://nbcot.org.

View the Complete Admission Requirements

Graduation Requirements

To earn and receive a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy degree, a student must satisfy all the following:

  • Successful completion of all didactic educational requirements.
  • Successful completion of two, 12-week, Level II Fieldwork experiences.
  • A completed application for degree candidacy conveyed to the Office of Record.
  • Payment in full of all tuition, fees, and other financial obligations owed to the university, including a degree processing fee.
  • All requirements completed within five years from the time of initial enrollment.

Career Opportunities

Job Outlook for Occupational Therapists

More than 143,000 occupational therapists (OTs) are currently active in the U.S., and the job outlook is growing faster than the national average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, the BLS reports the demand for occupational therapists will grow 16% between 2019 and 2029. As of 2020, occupational therapists made an average of $86,280 per year. 

Also, according to U.S. News & World Report, occupational therapy ranked in the top 10 healthcare jobs of 2021, as well as 31st in its “Best 100 Jobs List” and 10th in its “Best Healthcare Jobs List.”

The main responsibilities of occupational therapists include treating injured, sick, or disabled patients by reteaching and helping them complete everyday activities. They utilize intervention therapy, adaptive equipment (such as wheelchairs, eating aids, etc.), and teach basic skills (such as managing time, budgeting, etc.) in order to help their patients move and function on their own.  

Occupational therapists work with a variety of patients in many different places, including the classroom, work environments, and mental health settings. They also work with people of all ages, from infants to seniors.

Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support


Tuition/Credit Unit

Number of Credit Units/Semester

Total Tuition Cost


Fall Semester




Spring Semester$1,200.0016


Summer Semester$1,200.0011


Total Tuition Year One



Program Fees Year One



Lab Fees Year One






Fall Semester$1,200.0013


Spring Semester$1,200.0015$18,000.00
Summer Semester$1,200.006$7,200.00

Total Tuition Year Two*


Total Program Fees Year Two*


Total Lab Fee Year Two*




Fall Semester

Graduation Fee  $120.00




*Estimated 3-4% increase in costs for year two tuition, program, and lab fees.

**Program fees are utilized for professional organization memberships, required clinical clothing, and access to online educational resources. Lab fees are associated with supplies used in lab courses. Total costs for this 27-month program does not include health requirements needed to enter the program and/or to fulfill fieldwork requirements, clinical site parking costs, housing during clinical experiences, and transportation to clinical sites.

Course List

Required Courses

OCC 6000-Introduction to Occupational Therapy (3)

This course examines the historical development of occupational therapy, including philosophical, social, political, economic, and medical influences on clinical practice. Current practice settings, the role of the occupational therapist, professional standards, OT process, OT theories, and OT models of practice are considered in light of OT’s history and current contexts.

OCC 6001-Applied Human Anatomy (5)

This course will cover human gross anatomy with an emphasis on the structure and physiology of the musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiopulmonary and integumentary systems to provide a foundation for the practice of occupational therapy. Other anatomical systems (nervous system, digestive, urinary) will be covered briefly, especially as they relate to the function of the four emphasized systems. Emphasis is on the structure and functional relationships of human anatomy and application of knowledge to clinical conditions through lecture and small lab group experiences.

OCC 6002- Professionalism in OT Seminar Course (1)

This course will promote the development of self-awareness of leadership skills, strengths and areas of growth, and professional behaviors needed for success in the community and Level I fieldwork experiences. Emphasis will be on personal and professional advocacy. Students explore the PLNU Occupational Therapy program curriculum design and develop a plan for personal success and growth in the program. Students will also reflect on the impact of their faith on their vocational choice of becoming an occupational therapist (8-week course, quad one).

OCC 6003-Evidenced-Based Practice (3)

This course will enable students to practice the judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients and clients. Students will learn to integrate the best external evidence with their clinical expertise and patient concerns to ask a focused question to satisfy the health needs of a specific patient; find the best evidence by searching the literature; critically appraise the literature; apply the results in clinical practice; and evaluate the outcomes in patients. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to engage with other healthcare disciplines through guided discussions (8-week course, quad one).

OCC 6004-Health and Equity Disparities (1)

This course examines the theoretical frameworks explaining health disparities across various populations, with a focus on social determinants of health. Students will explore a diverse set of policies and practices that promote health equity, including those that address privilege and power, encourage capacity building, and facilitate community engagement. Bridging macro and micro approaches to health, this course aims to cultivate health professionals who practice empathy (8-week course, quad one).

OCC 6006-Case-Based Learning Seminar-1 (Pass/no credit)

This is the first of five courses utilizing small groups, case-based learning. The course design promotes the development of independent critical reasoning through faculty-led, case discussions (pass, no credit, 8-week course, quad two).

OCC 6007-Human Occupations across the Lifespan (3)

The development of human occupations across the lifespan, their meaning and roles, and the conditions that create barriers to engagement in meaningful occupations are included in this course.  The occupational therapy practice framework (4th ed.) will be used as a guide to understanding the performance of occupations.

OCC 6008-Applied Human Movement (3)

This course provides knowledge and understanding of basic concepts of kinesiology, including normal human movement across the lifespan.  Emphasis will be on analyzing movement patterns, balance, and function of the upper and lower extremities, axial skeleton, and the application to engagement in occupations.  Methods to assess balance and UE function are included in this course.

OCC 6009-Neuroscience in OT Practice (3)

This course focuses on the relationship of the human nervous system to performance of occupations. Specific neurological systems covered will include sensory, motor, limbic, cognitive, visual, and vestibular and ventricles that correlate to common conditions seen by occupational therapists. Cases and lab experiences will assist the student in integrating neurologic concepts.

OCC 6010- Research Methods-1 (3)

This course introduces analyzing data and designing research experiments in occupational therapy. Topics include selected techniques and designs used in research, with special emphasis given to planning, conducting, and reporting of research, and applied statistical analysis and interpretation of data from the field of occupational therapy (8-week course, quad one).

OCC 6011- Mental Health Conditions, Assessments and Interventions (4)

In this course, students explore common mental health conditions following the DSM-V and occupational therapy practice frameworks. The impact of mental health conditions on occupational performance and participation across the lifespan will be explored. Common practice settings and the impact of reimbursement systems on the provision of services are covered. Students will learn and apply client-centered occupational therapy assessments; design and implement evidenced-based occupation-based interventions. 

OCC 6012-Case-Based Learning Seminar-2 (Pass, no credit)

This is the second of five case-based learning seminars designed to promote clinical reasoning and integration of material learned to date by using case studies within a group setting (pass, no credit).

OCC 6014-Group Process (2)

The focus of this course is on the understanding and application of group process and dynamics to the development of occupation-based groups for clients across the lifespan. Emphasis is on the development of group leadership skills and application of knowledge gained through laboratory and community experiences.

OCC 6015-Case-Based Learning Seminar-3 (Pass, no credit)

This small group, case-based learning course is the second of four synthesis courses. Content will focus on promoting greater ability to engage in critical reasoning, and link between client, environmental, and social factors, which influence occupational engagement and performance, (pass, no credit, 8-week course, quad 2).

OCC 6016- Healthcare Systems and Professional Documentation (3)

This course will explore reimbursement systems, including local, state and federal governmental agencies and private insurers’ influence on payment and access to OT services. Students will gain familiarity with electronic medical record systems and develop skills to document effectively to ensure reimbursement and prevent the needs for engaging in the appeal process. 

OCC 6017-Interprofessional Seminar (Pass, no credit)

Students will engage in a collaborative learning experience with other disciplines through case-based learning. Emphasis will be on understanding the roles and responsibilities of team members, and analyzing cases using a holistic framework (pass, no credit).

OCC 6018-Assistive Technology (3)

Low and high tech adaptations for persons, tasks, environments, and/or contexts to promote optimal health and occupational performance are the focus of this course. Students will also learn and apply physical agent modalities, orthotic interventions, and 3-D printing to promote health and wellness. Small group case study presentations of person/environmental modifications will be the final project for this course. 

OCC 6019-Patient Skills Management (2)

This lecture and lab course will prepare students to gain patient care skills needed to provide safe and effective treatment across the lifespan. Students will demonstrate competency in the assessment of vital signs, functional mobility, management of acute care equipment, adherence to HIPAA and infection control standards, and the ability to explain the role of occupational therapy to others.

OCC 6020-Childhood Conditions, Assessments, and Interventions (5)

Course content includes typical and atypical physical, cognitive, and social development conditions seen in infants and young children. Developmental theories and early-intervention models of service, occupational therapy process and treatment settings for children and families, form the foundation of this course.  Assessments and treatment interventions will focus on providing culturally sensitive and family focused care for children with disabilities. Observations of normal childhood development will occur during the first 8 weeks of the term.

OCC 6021-Adolescent Conditions, Assessments, and Interventions (3)

This course focuses on conditions affecting adolescents, common treatment settings, and the occupational therapy process for assessment and intervention for adolescents and families. Students will learn common assessments and develop age and culturally appropriate interventions for this population, which focus on assisting adolescents in transitioning to adulthood.

OCC 6022-Case-Based Learning Seminar-3 (Pass, no credit)

This small group, case-based course, is the third of four synthesis courses. Students will apply knowledge of the clinical reasoning process to course content taught to date. The overarching focus is to develop clinical reasoning skills, which include an understanding of the links between occupational performance, disease/disability, health/wellness, and the systems in which individuals function (pass, no credit, 8-week course, quad 2).

OCC 6024-Research Principles-2 (3)

In small groups, students will apply knowledge gained from prior research courses to conducting an evidenced-based review of the literature and develop a new clinical program proposal based on community fieldwork partners’ needs. Students will engage with community partners throughout the term and present their findings to the community site at the end of the term. 

OCC 6026-Orthopedic Adult-Older Adult Conditions, Assessments and Interventions (5)

This course focuses on common upper and lower extremity orthopedic conditions, which affect adults and older adults.  Systems and processes for adults and older adults, which facilitate and limit occupational therapy services, will be considered. Lab experiences include administration of standardized assessments, use of adaptive equipment, and provision of occupation-based treatment interventions used in acute, sub-acute, and outpatient rehabilitation settings. Ergonomic principles and interventions to prevent/reduce chronic orthopedic conditions are also included in this course. Students will demonstrate competency through interactions with simulated clients and/or interactions with adults/older adults in the community.

OCC 6027- Neurologic Adult- Older Adult Conditions, Assessments, and Interventions (5)

The focus of this course is on common central nervous system (CNS) conditions influencing adults and older adults, degenerative and acquired CNS disorders. Course content includes an analysis and assessment of how motoric, cognitive and perceptual dysfunction impact occupational engagement. In lab, students will administer cognitive/motoric and/or occupation-based standardized assessments, design and implement occupation-based interventions based on neuroplasticity and cognitive/perceptual models of practice. Students will demonstrate competency through interactions with simulated clients.  

OCC 6028-Management in Occupational Therapy (3)

This course introduces the skills and knowledge needed to provide ethical and legal client care and to function as a supervisor, manager, and/or leader in the occupational therapy profession.  Topics include supervision principles of intra and interdisciplinary team members, ethics, utilization of fiscal resources, compliance, human resources, marketing, continuous quality improvement, consultative and private practice. Students will build upon program development concepts gained in the community practice course for application of course content.

OCC 6029-Case-Based Learning Seminar-4 (Pass, no credit)

This is the fourth of five small group, case-based learning seminars, focusing on students’ ability to engage in clinical reasoning more independently, to promote integration of concepts learned (pass, no credit).

OCC 6031- Professionalism in OT Seminar Course-2 (1)

Preparation for Level 11 Fieldwork experiences and refinement of personal professional development plan are included in this course (8-week course, quad two).

OCC 6033-Professionalism in OT-3 (Pass, no credit)

This third of three professional seminar courses focuses on student preparation to transition to the role of an OT. Test taking strategies, completion of a NBCOT review course, and skills needed for employment are included in this online course (Pass, no credit, 8-weeks, and quad 2, online).

Clinical/Fieldwork Experiences

OCC 6005-Community Practice-1 (1)

This course will build upon the health equity course by allowing students to participate in a local community health clinic to enhance awareness and appreciation of individual and population socioeconomic, political, personal, and environmental factors, which limit access to traditional healthcare services.

OCC 6013- Level 1 Fieldwork-A-Mental Health Conditions (1)

This is the first of three Level 1 Fieldwork experiences focusing on the role of OT for persons and populations with mental health conditions in underserved community settings. Students will develop therapeutic use of self, communication abilities, observational skills, and awareness of how contextual factors influences the provision of healthcare services (8-week course, quad two).

OCC 6023-Level I Fieldwork-B-Pediatric/Adolescent (1)

This is the second of three Level 1 Fieldwork experiences focusing on client interactions to develop observational and clinical reasoning skills, therapeutic use of self, communication abilities and understanding of the OT process for children and /or adolescents. Students will analyze the effects of developmental dysfunction on the lives of children or adolescents, perform developmental screenings, and develop and implement group interventions (2nd 8 weeks of the term).

OCC 6025-Community Practice Seminar-2 (2)

This course is the second of two experiences with underserved clients and populations in a community clinic. Students will conduct a needs assessment, develop, and implement a group program to address population needs for persons with acute or chronic medical conditions.

OCC 6030- Level 1 Fieldwork C-Adult/Older Adult (1)

This course is third of three Level I fieldwork settings to promote clinical reasoning, professional behaviors and application of knowledge of adult and/or older adult conditions to the assessment and treatment of adults and/or older adults.

OCC 6031-Level II Fieldwork-A (6)

This is the first of two, 12-week, Level II fieldwork courses, focusing on the integration of all coursework, with the goal of developing entry-level competency as an OT by the end of this clinical experience.

OCC 6032-Level II Fieldwork-B (6)

This is the second of two Level II fieldwork courses, which focuses on integration of all didactic coursework to date, with the focus of students demonstrating entry-level competency in this practice setting by the end of this experience.

Department Faculty